Skip to Content

Do Dogs Understand Other Dogs’ Barks? 3 Surprising Answers

Do Dogs Understand Other Dogs' Barks

Barking is one of a dog’s forms of communication.

They express themselves through it.

But for us, all we hear are…

“Arf! Woof! Ruff! Bow-wow!”

And this makes you wonder…

“What do dogs hear when they hear other Fidos barking?

Do they understand each other?”

Keep reading to learn:

  • If dogs understand other dogs’ barks.
  • 7 real reasons why dogs bark at each other.
  • 13 types of dog barks and how to identify them.
  • Whether canines enjoy barking at each other or not.
  • And many more…

Do dogs understand other dogs’ barks?

Dogs can understand other dogs’ barks. And this is regardless of the canines’ breed and place of origin. They may not have a spoken language like humans, but they can get other dogs’ messages by listening to their barks. And also by considering other things like the canine’s scent and body language.

One research has proved this.

Experts made 14 dogs listen to the barks of other canines. And these were recorded in 2 different scenarios:

It’s when the dogs:

  • Were tied to a tree alone.
  • Saw a stranger on their property.

Next, while the Fidos were listening, experts monitored their heart rates.

When the dogs heard the ‘stranger barks,’ their heart beat faster. And they didn’t react similarly to the ‘alone barks.’

So this shows that dogs can indeed understand each other.

Do dogs enjoy barking at each other?

Dogs don’t always enjoy barking at each other. But if a canine does, it means they’re being friendly or playful towards the other Fido. Also, dogs can bark together to socialize.

The latter is called ‘social’ or ‘group’ barking.

It’s when a single hound bark repeatedly at first.

Then one by one, your pooch and other dogs join in the fun. 

And ta-dah.

Everyone in the neighborhood is awake and listening to a canine choir.

“But why do dogs do it?”

#1: Socialization

One reason is to make friends with other dogs.

A Fido acknowledges the other dog’s ‘message’ by replying with a bark. And then other canines will follow suit.

#2: Social learning

Next, if your puppy loves chiming in the group barking, it could be due to ‘social learning.’

“What is it?”

It’s when dogs pick up things by observing and watching older Fidos. Then they’ll mimic those specific actions.

Fun fact: Did you know that puppies learn faster from a stranger than their mother? A study says it might be because dogs are more curious about someone they don’t know. So, as a result, they observe the stranger more in-depth. 

#3: ‘Alert barking’

Lastly, group barking is often a way to alert everyone.

“What do you mean?”

For example, a single Fido has seen or heard an unusual thing or sound. So it triggered them to ‘alert bark.’

Then when other dogs hear it, they’ll also bark and pass the message to others.

On the other hand…

Unhappy dogs may also bark at each other

Usually, there are 4 possible reasons for this:

  1. Overstimulation – being overwhelmed during play.
  2. Fear – being scared of other dogs.
  3. Disciplining – older dogs teaching puppies good manners.
  4. ‘Barrier frustration’ – feeling trapped as they can’t meet the Fido near them.

What do dog barks mean?

Dog barks can mean various things depending on the pitch, frequency, and duration. There’s a difference in their sound when a canine’s happy, scared, or alerting everyone.

A study even found that most of us understand these vocalizations.

“Really? How?”

By listening, people matched a dog’s bark to the correct situation most of the time.

And the experiment went like this.

First, the researchers recorded the barks of a Mudi dog in 6 different situations.

It’s when the Fido:

  • Was alone.
  • Saw a stranger.
  • Played with their parent.
  • Was about to go for a walk.
  • Was looking at a ball held by their human.

Trivia: Mudi dog is a rare herding breed from Hungary. And today, there are only a few thousand of these Fidos in the world.

Next, they asked the listeners in the study to:

  1. Listen to the recorded dog barks.
  2. Rate them based on the level of tension.
  3. Match the barks to their correct situations.

And the results?

Most people guessed the situation of the Fido by only listening to the barks. And the accuracy was high above the chance level.

Also, experts say that it doesn’t matter whether a person’s familiar with a Mudi dog or not.

So this means that barking is an effective way for Fidos to talk to us.

And below are the things you’ll pick up on the 3 qualities of dog barks:

  • Pitch – emotion.
  • Frequency – urgency.
  • Duration – eagerness.

To understand these more, I’ll share…

13 types of dog barks

#1: Playful/excited

“I’m so happy you’re here!

C’mon, human. Let’s play fetch!”

Dog barks with these meanings are yaps or short high-pitched ones.

And an excited or playful Fido usually lets out 1 or 2 of these at irregular intervals.

Also, these vocalizations may come with:

  • A wagging tail.
  • Perked up ears.
  • Spinning in circles.
  • Rapid tapping of feet.

You’ll often hear this ‘excited’ bark when your dog:

  • See you arrive home.
  • Meets other canines (if friendly).
  • Plays with you or their Fido friends.
  • Hears the sound of their leash (means walk).

#2: Alert

Alert Bark

We usually hear this type of bark from our Fidos daily.

It’s when they emit 2 to 4 barks in a low-pitched tone. Then have pauses in between.

Dogs do this to warn their humans and other canines near them about a strange sound or individual.

So it’s like they’re saying…

“Everyone, I sense danger!”

And this barking is often accompanied by:

  • Pouncing.
  • A stiff body.
  • Moving forward.

But sometimes, your pooch may also ‘alert bark’ to notify you of something. Like when the phone or doorbell rings.

And for your dog to stop, simply acknowledge whatever they want to tell you.

For instance, look out the window if they see something outside. And say “thank you” to your Fido.

#3: Territorial

“Go away!”

Next, this kind of bark now comes with growls.

Plus, it’s repetitive. And it becomes more intense as it goes.

This is when you’ll know your Fido detects something around your house. Or should I also say their ‘territory’?

However, we, humans, may not be an exception to this bark.


It’s normal for our furry friends to be territorial.

But vets say that some Fidos can be too possessive of their belongings. Say their food bowl, toys, or space.

So your dog might also bark at you when you sit on their side of the sofa.

#4: Demand/attention-seeking

“Hey, notice me!”

Your Fido barks at you all of a sudden. 

And you can’t deny it’s one of the most ‘annoying’ sounds they make.

Dogs let out this long string of barks to get their human’s attention. So it’s usually directed at one person.

And your Fido may bark like this if they need something from you, such as:

  • Food.
  • Water.
  • Cuddles
  • Attention.
  • Access to outdoors.

You might also like: Demand Barking: 19 Simple Tips To Stop It (How-To Guide)

#5: Lonely

This type isn’t one that you’d like to hear from your doggo.

If they’re sad, canines emit frequent barks. And they usually pause after each one.

‘Lonely barks’ can go on as much as the dog wants. And they do it to convey their loneliness at the moment.

Now, I hope this won’t happen. But if ever you hear this bark, stop what you’re doing.

Go to your Fido, and spend more time with them.

#6: Separation anxiety

If dogs do the previous one specifically when they’re lonely…

This kind of bark is only done when they’re left alone. Or when Fido’s parents are out of sight.

So apart from barking, canines might also yelp, whine, or howl.

And these are the common signs of ‘separation anxiety’ in dogs.

“What is it?”

It’s when a dog’s overly attached to their human. So being away from them (even for a minute) will stress them out.

So Fidos who have separation anxiety also tend to show these behaviors:

  • Pacing.
  • Depression.
  • Being destructive.
  • Peeing/pooping everywhere.

Read next: Why Does My Dog All Of A Sudden Have (Separation) Anxiety?

#7: Fearful

Dogs also bark when they’re scared of something.

They do it to intimidate whatever it is that’s making them nervous.

So this type of bark is usually high-pitched and repetitive.

And the most common situations where a dog will do this is when they hear:

Also, a Fido who had a bad experience with a certain person may bark defensively. And if they’re scared of a particular pooch.

#8: Pain/Illness

“Ouch, it hurts!”

Like number 5, this bark is also something you don’t want to hear from your pooch.

Typically, dogs hide their pain since research says they have a higher tolerance for it than us.

But they’ll bark in a higher pitch if they can’t take it anymore. And it may trail off as it goes on.

Also, a Fido can bark or yelp in pain if you accidentally touch their aching body part.

For example:

#9: Reactive

When taken aback, your Fido may also bark in a high pitch.

It’s a normal reaction. Like when we scream or utter things when we’re surprised.

And dogs may bark this way when:

  • They have poor hearing.
  • They see something weird moving fast.

You suddenly walk up to them without them knowing.

#10: Frustrated

“Get me out of here!


Besides attention-seeking…

These are other possible meanings of incessant barking in dogs.

They might be frustrated about something. And Fidos want to announce it to everyone.

“When do dogs usually bark like this?”

Some common reasons for frustration in canines are when:

  • They’re tied or confined.
  • They can’t meet other people or dogs.
  • They couldn’t retrieve their toy after playing with it.

#11: Bored

Our furry friends can also bark when they have nothing to do. Or if they lack physical or mental stimulation.

This type of vocalization is:

  • Repetitive.
  • Monotone.
  • Lasting for hours.

#12: Disapproval

Have you heard your Fido bark at you when making them do something they hate?

If yes, that’s your dog ‘talking back’ or complaining.

This type of vocalization’s also high-pitched. And it can be a single bark or a long one.

Let’s say you’re urging your Fido to take a shower. But they don’t want to.

Your pooch may bark every time you convince them to bathe. And this might not stop until you give up.

Aside from taking baths, other things that most dogs hate are:

Learn more: Why does my dog hate me?

#13: Jealous

Lastly, dogs bark, too, when they’re jealous.

According to experts, canines can feel 5 basic emotions:

  • Joy.
  • Fear.
  • Love.
  • Anger.
  • Disgust.

But besides these, a study shows that our furry friends can also feel jealousy.

In the experiment, when dogs saw their parents around another Fido, they:

  • Snapped.
  • Pushed the other hound away.
  • Tried to get between their human and the ‘rival.’

So if your dog’s overprotective of you, they may also bark when you: